Tuesday, March 5, 2019

UP/SP Bridges over Trinity River near Livingston, TX

(Bridge Hunter; no Historic Bridges; Satellite)

Patrick Feller Flickr, 2011, License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)

Street View
This collapse happened in Feb 2004.
Gil Moser posted some photos with the comment: "Pier fell over on bridge 60.97(Lufkin sub.) over the Trinity river in Texas."

The still girder span is holding its weight because it was designed as a swing bridge so it is also supported by the center round pier. However, the center pier is designed to hold a span that is being turned, which would not have the load of a train on it. The additional weight of the covered hopper by the engine is making the span tilt. Note the gap between the beam and the top of the pier. Fortunately, the rail on the right side of the span is acting as a cantilever anchor. You can tell that old bridges were over-engineered because that girder is holding a lot more weight than it was ever intended to hold.


If I was that guy in photo 1, I don't think I would stand there gawking. I would pull the pin and get off so that the cars could be pulled off the bridge in opposite directions. I saw a comment about the rails could twist. The rails are definitely not clamped very well over the truss.

The riverbed level on the right probably used to extend clear across the base of the pier. I read in another post that this is an ultrasound image. If they can get that good of an image with ultrasound, then why didn't UP inspect the piers often enough to catch this scouring long before it got this bad. I don't think this scan is of the pier that failed, but it does show that they can do decent pier inspections without the expense of hiring divers.
Derek A. Walsh commented on Gil's post
(new window) A video showing a scanning sonar image of the buildup of silt behind a dam.

A before photo shows why the labels include three different bridge types (bridgeGirderSteel, BridgeTruss, bridgeSwing). Before I found this photo, I tried using Global Earth to get a "before" image. But there was only one before 2004 and it the quality was bad. It makes me appreciate the time choices and quality of the images I normally see for Illinois locations. Historic Aerials happens to have a 2004 image. It shows two construction barges on the river.
Bob Smith, May 22, 2002
That white hopper was loaded because here we can see the hose that is being used to suck the contents out.
Bob Smith
I don't know how long that barge has been held there with its spuds into the river bed, but look how much debris has already been caught by it.
Bob Smith
KCS Span installed and traffic resumed March 5, 2004 but work was still going on into December 2004
I wonder if this is a second construction barge or if they changed the crane from a crawler to a hydro.
Bob Smith, 9/20/2004
Will require 500ton crane to lift in place!!

Bob has some fascinating construction photos on RailPictures. Look at them from the bottom up. Note that UP hauled in two cute little railroad cranes, one for each side, to drive the steel for the bents to hold a KCS span while they build the permanent piers and span. Bob comments that they dynamited the old pier out of the way. The collapse happened 2-19-2004 and they had rail traffic running as of the evening of 3-3-2004.

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